Darren Raekwon McIntosh-Buffonge is one of several academy players who has been released by Manchester United this week. Higher profile players like James Wilson and Regan Poole were on the list, but DJ was once tipped for greatness.
He signed for United in 2015 from Fulham following a successful trial when he was 16. He had started his career at Arsenal’s academy before moving to Fulham, who chose not to extend his stay at the club.
“I got in to football very young,” he said. “I was four years old and I fell in love with it. When I was 11 I got dropped from the first club that I was at. At the time for me I was thinking maybe I should go and do something else. I broke through it and started believing in myself.”
Nicky Butt saw enough in the creative midfielder to invite him to join our academy and he went on to thrive. After early injury problems, he officially signed for the club after his trial.
In his first season he scored once and assisted seven goals in just 13 starts, with manager at the time, Paul McGuinness, singing his praises.
“He’s a talented young player,” he told the Evening News. “He is a left sided midfield player who can beat people and plays some good through balls as well. In old-fashioned terms I would say he was an inside-forward but in modern day speak he is an attacking midfielder. But he is versatile as well.”
At the start of his second season he was interviewed by utdreport and talked about how much it meant to him to have signed for United.
“I’d have to say the best moment at United was being signed in the first place, as it’s a club I have always admired,” he said. “Since being signed, my best moment has got to be the first game of the season against West Brom. Starting in that game meant a lot to me because I was representing my dream club in the opening game of the season – to me, this meant that I had a responsibility to help the team win that game and ultimately try help the U18s win the league. Being a part of Manchester United has always been a dream of mine, and for it to become a reality is an unreal feeling, although I know I have a long way to go.”
In his second season for the U-18s he scored seven and assisted six in 18 starts. He was named as one of the 10 young players to keep an eye out for in The Independent, along with the likes of Ryan Sessegnon and Phil Foden.
He also featured in a Puma campaign with Cadet, who tragically passed away earlier this year.
“If you work as hard as you can, you’re gonna give yourself the best opportunity to be where you wanna be in life” In Partnership with @pumafootball featuring @djbuffonge_ and @callmecadet #PUMAFuture #NewLevels pic.twitter.com/NtfvwkiCql
— GRM Daily (@GRMDAILY) March 28, 2018
Buffonge made the step up to the U-23s and he was one of three players that Jose Mourinho invited to join first team training last September.
When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed, Buffonge was again invited to first team training.
For the U-23s, he scored three goals in 10 appearances, as they failed to progress out of the second tier. A few months before the end of the season he went to Derby for a trial with their U-23s, before having a go at Bolton where he played well and scored, with it looking as though his time at United was coming to an end.
⚽️ Highlights. See all three of Wanderers U23s' goals from last nights Professional Development League clash against @AcademyBFC below, with DJ Buffonge, @pritchard_joe and Olawale Tanimowo on the scoresheet!#BWFC ?? pic.twitter.com/jLVr20hvf9
— Bolton Wanderers FC (@OfficialBWFC) February 26, 2019
United confirmed that he was one of several players who was being released, as another young talent fails to fulfil their promising potential at the club. Good luck to him going forward.